CCHA, Historical Studies, 60 (1993-1994), 17-42


Early Catholic Church Architecture
in the Ottawa Valley:
An initial investigation of nineteenth century
parish churches



Victoria BENNETT





        In January of 1860 the Montreal Gazette ran an article in which it referred to the present day as “the age of church building.”2 Indeed for many Christian denominations in Central Canada, the nineteenth century was also an age of intense architectural activity.3 In the Ottawa Valley alone over 800 churches and chapels are known to have been built for Christian worship. Although many of these buildings were modest log cabins, destined to be used for only a few years, they nevertheless repre­sented considerable financial sacrifice on the part of those who built them. At least three hundred of these structures were Roman Catholic.

     When the vast territory of Quebec was divided into two provinces in 1791 much of the border between the new provinces was drawn down the middle of the Ottawa Valley.4 Although people had been attracted to the region and its rich natural resources for thousands of years there had been little permanent settlement prior to the early decades of the nineteenth century. Many of the first settlers in the Ottawa Valley were late Loyalists or economic refugees from the United States, and con­trary to the hopes of some British Officials comparatively few were members of the United Church of England and Ireland.5 Settlers con­tinued to drift northwards until the flow was interrupted by the War of 1812. After the war, however, there was some uneasiness following suggestions that “loyalist settlers” may not have been as devoted to the interests of British Crown as their name implied. British immigration officials subsequently encouraged the settlement of newly opened lands, such as the Ottawa Valley, by people whose political loyalties were less ambiguous. At the same time, the economic slump that supervened the Napoleonic Wars had become a source of considerable financial distress and aggravation, especially in Ireland. In an attempt to divert and defuse tensions, the British Government consequently encouraged both Protestant and Catholic emigration to British North America. In addition, French Canadian Catholics also began to settle the Ottawa Valley in significant numbers at this time. Many French families wishing to make their fortune on new land were also encouraged to settle in newly surveyed regions of western Quebec or eastern Ontario. The Ottawa Valley was seen by many French Canadian priests as a more desirable alternative for resettlement than emigration to the United States, where young French families risked losing not only their language and culture but their faith.6

     Roman Catholics soon counted for a significant portion of the population in the Ottawa Valley although their numbers have always remained divided primarily between the French and Irish communi­ties.7

     When Joseph-Bruno Guigues8 was ordained first bishop of the diocese of Bytown9 in 1848, he inherited a territory that ran over 800 kilometers up the Ottawa River from the Hawkesbury area in the south east to the Temiskaming area in the north west. His charge also included all tributaries and the surrounding townships. To help him with this immense task Mgr. Guigues had a total of fourteen priests many of whom were not fluently bilingual. In the entire region, there were only nineteen Catholic churches or chapels. This number included the Bytown cathedral that was far from finished and barely usable. When Mgr. Guigues died twenty-six years later, there were ninety priests working in the Diocese and at least 115 churches or chapels in serviceable condition.10 In 1874, when Joseph-Thomas Duhamel was appointed to succeed Mgr. Guigues as bishop of Ottawa, over half the population or 92,547 of the 174,497 individuals surveyed in the recent census had identified themselves as Roman Catholics.11 By the time Mgr. Duhamel died in 1909, there were 258 priests working in the diocese of Ottawa and the Roman Catholic population had risen to 150,000.12

     Of the numerous Roman Catholic churches and chapels built in the Ottawa Valley during the course of the nineteenth century many are no longer standing.13 Regrettably, many architectural plans, minutes of building committees and parish record books have been lost to fire or human neglect. Only Notre-Dame Cathedral, Ottawa,14and the Rideau Street Convent Chapel, Ottawa,15 have been the object of serious archi­tectural studies. Few parish histories contain even the most fleeting ref­erence to places of worship. Still, it should be remembered that the weathered facades, stained glass windows and polished woodwork of these churches are historical documents in their own right (Fig. I). These churches are no less pertinent to our cumulative knowledge of Catholi­cism in nineteenth century Canada than written documents. For this rea­son, and despite all other shortcomings due to fragmented evidence, these churches are worth investigating.


Text Box: Old church of St. Hughes, Sarsfield (1867), during the construction of the new church in 1985. Photo: Courtesy of the Archives of the Archdiocese of Ottawa. Fig. 1    

     An investigation of Roman Catholic churches in the Ottawa Valley is not without its limitations. Many questions remain unanswered. There are times when official records simply add to the confusion. One has only to consider the different responses found in the Annual Reports to the Diocese of Ottawa from the pastors of churches in the Valley. Even the most straightforward inquiries could be subjected to various inter­pretations. In the Annual Report for 1876, Fr. Camille Gay, answered that the church of St. Luc in Curran, (Fig. 2), was built in... 1864. Two years later he said that the church was built in... 1863, and two years after that he said the church was built in... stone. For each year Fr. Gay gave slightly different measurements.16 This was by no means an isolated incident. Reports of St. Philip’s Richmond indicated that the church var­ied in length from 60 feet to 70 feet but was usually 64 feet or 65 feet long. Accounts of the width varied from 30 feet to 40 feet. The roof was sometimes said to be as low as 14 feet or as high as 20 feet. The sacristy of St. Philip’s was usually reported to be rectangular, and reached its maximum size in 1883 when it measures 25 feet X 18 feet; it shrank as low as 12 feet by 16 feet in 1896, until it settled down to become a stable 22.5 feet X 22.5 feet square until the end of the century.17

     Such are the problems encountered with some of the better docu­mented sites. This paper shall discuss some of the major characteristics of spatial organization identified in Roman Catholic church buildings in the Ottawa Valley during the nineteenth century. As it is beyond the mandate of this paper to discuss any church in detail, representative ele­ments from various church buildings will be considered according to the following categories: I) Site Choice and Planning; II) Facades and Entryways; III) The Quadratum Populi18 and IV) Sanctuaries.

     Of the various Christian denominations who sought to establish an architectural presence in the Ottawa Valley, it was the Roman Catholics who could lay claim to the oldest, longest and most diversified tradition of church-building.19 However, while Catholic-church building had flourished in much of Continental Europe and in the French Colonial context, the same could not be said of Roman Catholic church building in Great Britain. Catholicism in the British Isles had been on unstable legal ground since the time of the Protestant Reformation until Catholic Emancipation in 1829. Considered a non-conformist denomination by English authorities, Roman Catholicism had been legally denied the architectural freedom enjoyed by the officially Established Church. Even during the years when church-building was not expressly banned, English Law had restricted the use of steeples, towers, bells, etc., in the building of Roman Catholic churches. For many years the development of church-building traditions had been stunted by these restrictions which denied any architectural expression of power, strength or lofty aspiration. Churches not built for the established denomination were not permitted to be integrated as architectural equals on busy streets and public squares but were effectively silenced, architecturally marginal­ized, and relegated to the back roads.20 As a result of this policy, many of the Irish Catholics who immigrated to the Ottawa Valley during the first part of the nineteenth century had no strong custom of recent church building. They brought with them instead memories of overcrowded and poorly maintained older churches.


I. Site Choice and Planning


     Whether it originated from a small group of individuals, or the com­munity as a whole, the decision to build a place of worship was always considered a turning point in the history of any nineteenth century Ottawa Valley community. Occasionally a group of interested parishion­ers would petition their bishop for permission to build with the hopes of eventually securing a resident priest. Other times a traveling missionary might suggest a small chapel be built, especially if he identified the need to bring together the community. Sometimes the building of a small chapel was advocated as a useful tool in the struggle against heresy and the evangelizing efforts of Protestant missionaries.21 In such cases, con­struction of a chapel served as a rallying point to unite and motivate a community. In a few instances the bishop himself suggested that the time was ripe for a community to give a more tangible expression to their reli­gious convictions.22 After securing permission to build, it was custom­ary for a cross to be raised on the site of the future church. This then served as a focal point for the congregation.

     The Catholic Church in the Ottawa Valley acquired building sites in a variety of ways. In military settlements such as Richmond, the estab­lished churches received generous land grants. The British Army offi­cially recognized three churches; the United Church of England and Ireland, the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church.23 Owing to the comparatively later date of settlement in the Ottawa Val­ley, military land grants were rare. Government land grants were some­times obtainable in newly settled areas.24 Donations of land by individuals or families were also common. However, all land donations were not automatically accepted. The donor had to be both willing and able to sign the deed of the land over the Episcopal corporation.25

     Site choice could be a delicate and often controversial issue espe­cially in a time and place where distances were great, travel was arduous and priests were scarce. French Canadian communities insisted that their tradition of centrally located churches be respected. Likewise, Irish church builders were determined to make the strong and public architec­tural statement they had long been denied. Once the site was chosen, even the bishop could not change the site of a church without provoking considerable controversy. This was true even if no building had taken place. The site of the church marked the center of a community. This was particularly important in earlier days it was not always obvious to new settlers and land speculators, where the future village would develop. Furthermore, proximity to a church was rarely detrimental to the value of one’s land. The abundance of correspondence on this matter reflects the extent of these preoccupations. Typical of these concerns are those voiced in a letter sent to Mgr. Guigues in 1864, “I feel myself duty bound as a citizen and a member of the church of Rome to take an interest in the building of a church in Alfred.” The correspondent went on to men­tion his fears that the site was not central enough to properly benefit all local Catholics in need of a church.26

     When Mgr. Guigues changed the planned site of the Plantagenet township church from the village of Curran to the village of Plantagenet, he was accused, among other things, of being anti-Catholic! “Un grand nombre qui, comptant sur la décision de votre grandeur lorsqu’elle mar­qua le site actuel de la chapelle, croyant voir la perspective d’un village s’agrandissant chaque année, ont en conséquence fait les achats du ter­rain et des ameliorations dans ou près du nouveau village et se sont trouvés avoir perdu beaucoup (en égard à leurs moyens par le change­ment survenu dans le site de l’Église: Un bon nombre a cru voir dans le changement sus dit, un acte anti-catholique et anti-national, étant le fait d’un Catholique et d’un Français, qui était supposé savoir que là ou se trouve la chapelle actuelle se trouve aussi la plus grande somme d’influ­ence Catholique et Française.”27 The author went on to assure the Bishop that his only motive for writing the letter was his love of Catholi­cism. His remarks illustrate just to what extent the church site was important. However, the location of a church was clearly significant not only in terms of one’s spiritual well being but in terms of real-estate holding and land speculation.28

     Following acquisition of the land and before commencement of the construction, it was necessary to agree on the orientation of the new church. Although European experts on the subject recommended that churches should be built with the facade to the west and the sanctuary at the eastern most end,29 this does not appear to have been an overwhelm­ing preoccupation. Initially it was more important for Roman Catholics in the Ottawa Valley to establish each church structure in a central loca­tion. During the early and middle years of the nineteenth century, Roman Catholic churches generally followed the land surveys. Occasionally the orientation of the graveyard differed from that of the church building, even when the two occupied the same site. Graveyards were frequently aligned so that the headstones faced the rising sun.30

     By the second half of the nineteenth century, new criteria was being considered in the selection of building sites for new Roman Catholic churches. The primary consideration was now to make the church a land­mark. According to several church building guides written by French clerics,31 a church site had to be prominently located, preferably on an elevated site. It should be set back from the noise and traffic of public roadways. It was also suggested that enough space be left around a church to allow for processions.32 Both practical and theological reasons lay behind this emphasis on height. Elevated sites were healthier because of their natural drainage. More significantly, the elevation of the site was to be a visible demonstration of the predominance of the “House of God” over human dwellings. The landscape rising up to the church was to serve as a reminder to Roman Catholics of Christ’s spiritual ascension. Furthermore, the scriptures described how theophanies – a visible man­ifestation of God – took place on high ground or mountains.33 The influ­ence of this thought can be easily identified in Roman Catholic church building policies of the late nineteenth century in the Ottawa Valley.

     The planning and actual building of a church could take many dif­ferent routes. Numerous early or remote rural churches were simple log structures. Their construction was a community effort.34 Parishioners hauled materials such as wood or stone to the site usually over the course of the winter. Later they gathered to “raise” the church in much the same manner as one “raised” a barn.35 Few have survived. Significantly, Roman Catholics never participated in the construction of union churches which were, for many Protestant congregations, a fact of pio­neer church building in the Ottawa

Text Box: St. Luc, Curran (1866). Photo: Courtesy of the Archdiocese of Ottawa. Fig. 2.
36 Although Roman Catholics may have declined to share church buildings with those of a differing theology, their reverence for the building itself did not preclude practical uses of the building. Early chapels were often enjoyed a second career as a rectory or a school house.37 The rectory-chapel was an excellent example of planned obsolescence by Ottawa Valley Roman Catholics.

     In addition to local builders and contractors, parish priests occasion­ally proved to be able architects. Among the most notable surviving examples of churches designed by local priests, is the Church of Our Lady of the Visitation, South Gloucester, designed in 1845 by Fr. J. Ryan.38 Another more spectacular example of the influence of one priest is the role of Father Damase Dandurand who changed the design of the Cathedral of Ottawa into the Gothic style.39 The Bishop himself fre­quently took an active interest in the architectural details of a church building.40 This was especially true of Bishop Duhamel who frequently voiced his opinion concerning the construction or architectural modifi­cation of churches in his dioceses.41


II. The facades and entryways


Initially, the facades of most Catholic churches built in the Ottawa Valley during the first half of the nineteenth century had been propor­tionately scaled to the other elements of their built environment. They were marked by an stark but solid dignity. In its simplest form, a Cath­olic church was entered by way of a single door centered on the longitu­dinal axis of the building.42 More frequently, a principal door was flanked to either side by entries of a lesser height, (Fig. 2). The tripartite entryway was common not only to large

 urban churches but also to very small rural churches;43 it can be considered an identifying characteristic of Roman Catholic church architecture.44 It was occasionally suggested, (usually by enthusiasts of more esoteric interpretations of architectural symbolism) that the triple doors served as a reference to the Trinity. The French cleric, Mgr. X. Barbier de Montault observed that, according to the teachings of St. Paulin of Nole, the Trinity gave access to all ele­ments of faith and all teachings of the church, in the same manner three doors on the façade of a church symbolized the Trinity and gave access to the physical church.45 He offered no explanation as to why the Three Equal Persons would be represented by three unequal doors. Despite this, tripartite entryways remain an distinguishing feature of Roman Catholic architecture. Protestant churches, rarely had more than two doors. This difference is important as it illustrates the extent to which architectural symbolism differed between Roman Catholics and other Christian confessions. In contrast, Anglicans maintained that Trinitarian symbolism was inappropriate on the facade of a church.46 They believed that the western end of a church to be sacred to the memory of the incar­nation47 and that the duality of Christ’s nature should symbolized by a pair of arched windows in the facade of the church.

     Several types of facades can be identified. Two types draw on earlier prototypes closely associated with the church building traditions of French Canadian and Irish Roman Catholics. Frequently, French Canadian parishes48 continued an architectural tradition popular in Quebec since the days of the French regime (Fig. 3). On the ground floor a cen­tral doorway was flanked to either side by two lesser doors. These doors stood in round headed archways, the upper portion of which was usually filled with a window. Above the doors were windows, statue niches or a combination of

Text Box: St. Dominique, Luskville, (1884). Photo: A. Erdmer. Fig. 3

 both. These facades were frequently pierced by an ocu­lus, or small round window, just below the apex of the gable end. A bell turret or steeple was set back slightly in retreat of the facade. To accen­tuate the facade, acroterion usually in the form of small sculpted torches, trophies or turrets, were often added to either end of the gable base. A cross was placed on the uppermost point of the building.

     A second type was more common to the churches of Anglo or Irish parishes.49 Although many of these churches were built in a variant of the gothic style, they do not represent an attempt to revive medieval pro­totypes. Instead, the facades of these Catholic churches were stylistically much closer to a type commonly used by Anglican church builders, prior to influence of gothic revivalists during the mid nineteenth century. The elongated body of the main building was preceded by a large central tower (Fig. 5). The church was entered through the base of the tower which also served as a vestibule. Occasionally there were lesser entry­ways on either side of the facade. The bell was usually housed in the tower itself. When there was no tower, a small belfry was built above the main facade. Lofty spires were rare, although acroterion, were often added to accentuate the corners of the facade. Again the uppermost point of the church building was marked by a cross.


Text Box: St. Mary, Almonte, (1869). Photo: A. Erdmer. Fig. 5

     With the emergence of a new facade type during the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century, architectural continuity among the facades of Roman Catholic churches in the Ottawa Valley became much greater. This third type is notable primarily for its monumentality. It could be easily adapted to several different stylistic prototypes. The facade was always raised by several steps above the surrounding site. A character­istic feature was a colossal central tower (Fig. 6). This tower, different from that of the Anglo-Irish type, was often only slightly in relief of the main facade of which it remained an integral part. In keeping with the earlier formulas, the principal door was centered on the longitudinal axis of the central nave, and flanked to either side by two lesser entries. The main door was surmounted by a large central window, the side doors by lesser windows. The principal window was in turn surmounted by a small rose window or a single arched window. As the principal doorway was centered in the tower, it stood slightly in relief of the other entries.50 This large central tower that rose from the facade traditionally supported a bell tower and steeple. Above, at the greatest height was a large cross. At the base of the roof, on either side of the facade, earlier acroterion developed into pinnacles (Fig. 7). This arrangement was intended to recall or prefigure the candles and tabernacle of the high altar, or as Mgr. Barbier de Montault noted, “Par honneur pour la croix... des chande­liers se dressent à la base et sur les rampants.51 In many churches where the nineteenth century internal decor has survived, there is considerable stylistic unity between the facade and the architectonic volumes or built structure, of the high altar (Fig. 8 & 9). This was a very deliberate deci­sion, and reflected a theory prevalent in the nineteenth century that the facade of a church should forecast the activities held within the build­ing.52

     In recognition of its importance, the facade was usually built with superior quality material. It was frequently slightly wider than the main body of the church. However, in their quest for monumental facades, Roman Catholic church builders in the Ottawa Valley rarely used ele­ments of military architecture such as crenellations or embattled para­pets that could be seen on some Protestant churches.53
Text Box: Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, Vanier. (1888). Photo: Courtesy of the Archives of the Archdiocese of Ottawa. Fig. 6


Text Box: Interior of St-Bernard, Fournier, ( ca. 1895). Photo: Courtese of the Archives of the Archdiocese of Ottawa. Fig. 9III. The Quadratum Populi


     The quadratum populi was the place inside a church where the faith­ful gathered to worship. Throughout the nineteenth century, Roman Catholics in the Ottawa Valley worshipped in an atmosphere that was distinctly different from their Protestant neighbors. Although all Chris­tian churches built in the Ottawa Valley during the first half of the nine­teenth century were marked by an austere simplicity, Roman Catholics differed from their Protestant neighbours in that the installation of the fourteen stations of the cross was considered to be an important step towards the completion of a church.54 Furthermore, in Roman Catholic parishes an effort was usually made to acquire a suitable statue of their patron saint.

     The middle years of the nineteenth century was an age of rapid growth and many congregations optimistically looked forward to an increased membership expansion. To accommodate these future require­ments, allowance was made for galleries, or small balconies to be built along the lateral walls of the quadratum populi, or across the inner face of the main entry. Gallery seats were always considerably less desirable than those near the front of the church and were rented for a fraction of the price,55 still they provided an expanding population with practical and economical church accommodation.56 Galleries, were also used by most Protestant denominations but were rejected by Anglicans during the second half of the nineteenth century.57 There was however, one sub­ject on which all Roman Catholic and Protestant congregations in the Ottawa Valley were in agreement. Many European authors of architec­tural treatises (on the Church of Rome or the Church of England) did not hesitate to malign the presence of a furnace.58 The installation of a fur­nace in any Ottawa Valley church, by all accounts, was hailed as a defi­nite sign of progress.

     When Anglican church builders, introduced a number of structural modifications during the middle years of the nineteenth century, they were accused by other Protestants of building Roman Catholic style churches.59 Many of those who objected had never seen the inside of a Roman Catholic church and believed them to be shadowy and dark, places filled with idolatrous image and superstitious practices. However, at the same time that low walls and small windows with stained glass were darkening Anglican churches, Catholic churches builders were actually being encouraged to build churches with higher walls, larger windows and brighter interiors. “Nous repoussons formellement le sys­tème prétendu mystique des églises sombres. Elles ont la double incon­venience d’entretenir une fraicheur malsaine et d’empêcher de lire commodément. Or, de nos jours tout le monde tient à lire pendant les saints offices.”60 By the second half of the nineteenth century, the lateral walls of the quadratum populi were rising to unprecedented heights as Catholics sought to build brighter, better lit interiors.61 The windows along the lateral walls of the quadratum populi were now both tall and wide (Fig. 1). Stylistically, they could be either round-headed or gothic, although rectangular windows were considered too secular and were not acceptable.62 Window glass was usually colored to some extent. Clearer tones of translucent glass were dominant, while deeper shades were habitually used for borders or concentrated in central medallions.63 This arrangement interrupted intrusion from the outside world but still allowed for brighter, well lit interiors.

     Due to financial restrictions, completion of the church interior was, for many parishes, not an integral part of the original construction project.64 Unfortunately there is little surviving evidence about early interiors, which for the most part, appear to have been plain, and painted in equally plain colors or white-washed. However, by the second half of the nineteenth century, many congregations were in a position to invest their church buildings with greater financial resources. In Roman Cath­olic communities this increased prosperity was frequently expressed through the completion of architectural interiors and the decoration of the church interior. Consequently, a number of churches that were built during the first half of the nineteenth century have architectural interiors that date from the second half of the nineteenth century. The most con­spicuous example of this is the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Ottawa.65 In 1864, concerned with ever escalating costs and other more pressing needs for his limited financial resources, Mgr. Guigues put a stop to all work on the Cathedral. It was not until fourteen years later under the orders of Mgr. Duhamel, second Bishop of Ottawa, that work on the inte­rior of the cathedral was resumed and finally

Text Box: Interior of St. Isadore, Prescott ( c. 1897). Photo: Courtesy of the Archives of the Archdiocese of Ottawa. Fig. 4 completed in 1887.66 Sim­ilar projects existed although on a lesser scale in many other parishes. One of the earliest preserved examples of this can be seen at the Our Lady of the Visitation in South Gloucester. This rural church is roughly contemporary to Notre-Dame Cathedral in that the external Gothic shell was built during the late 1840s and the interior fittings were installed during the 1860s and 1870s. Similarly many Catholic congregations that built new churches during the second half of the century did not include completion of the interior as an integral part of the initial building cam­paign. This is illustrated by the ongoing work in large urban churches such as St. Patrick’s built in Ottawa during the early 1870s, as well as in smaller rural parish churches such as St-Isidore-de-Prescott and the church in St-Eugène

     In decorating their churches, Ottawa Valley Catholics drew on a rich and varied repertoire of visual imagery.67 Christological monograms, figurative images and aniconic symbols including crosses, trefoils and quatrefoils were used in abundance. Plastered moldings, painted ceilings and decorative pressed tin wall coverings also enjoyed considerable pop­ularity.68 In some churches no surface was left undecorated. Even the iron columns were painted to resemble coloured marble.

     Catholics also decorated the ceilings of their churches. In fact, dur­ing the nineteenth century, the only ornate and richly embellished ceil­ings to be found in Ottawa Valley churches were in Catholic churches.69 These ceilings were often an eclectic combination of religious tradition, personal devotion and energetic celebration of faith. They were often historicized or decorated with religious symbols or pictures of saints (Fig. 9). This type of ceiling was considered completely unacceptable by local Protestant church builders of this period. The decorative wooded vaults such as those designed by the Rev. Bouillon, and now on display in the National Gallery of Canada, can be seen as distinctly Roman Catholic. During the final quarter of the nineteenth century, Roman Catholics increased their efforts to enrich their churches with statues, paintings70 and stations of the cross71 These additions were seen to encourage personal piety and promote devotional practices.72

     Amid the considerable and varied efforts to beautify the interior of Roman Catholic churches there is one distinguishing characteristic that is noticeable in almost every church. This is the attempt made by Cath­olic church builders to create an atmosphere of vertical ascension. This continued a movement already begun with the elevated site of the church and the upward momentum of the facade. Inside the impression of verti­cal ascension was achieved primarily through the retention of a basilical type floor plan. This was true even if the pillars of the central colonnades were structurally redundant. Slender colonnettes were added to the prin­cipal columns and used to complement the upwards towards the molding of the arcade. Gothic arches were often used to draw the eye upwards to the ribbing of the vaults and the apex of the church. Invariably the vaults were of painted plaster (Fig. 4). By the latter decades of the nineteenth century, Roman Catholic church builders were turning more and more to the Classical features. Increasingly, elements reflective of a new interest for Italian culture were introduced. Pointed arches disappeared in favour of barrel vaults with banding, saucer domes, Classical columns, imposts, and Classical frontons above side altars. Quadripartite and sexpartite rib vaults with starred vault fields give way to ornate Italianate plastering and historiographed ceilings with a much expanded use of figural imagery.73 While a defining characteristic of the Roman Catholic, the effort to embellish, and not the style of the embellishment, was charac­teristically Roman Catholic.


IV. Sanctuaries


     A generous and privileged space had always been set aside for the sanctuary, even in the poorest Catholic church. This denotes an impor­tant difference between Roman Catholic and Protestant liturgical prior­ity. In Roman Catholic tradition, all other liturgical activity was subordinate to the Mass. The Eucharist, as focal point of the Mass was by extension to be the focal point of the church. The frequency, primacy and substance of the Roman Catholic Eucharistic celebration, justified the dedication of significant architectural space to this purpose. This emphasis again distinguished Roman Catholic practice from contempo­rary Protestant practice in which, despite doctrinal diversity, Commun­ion services of all denominations were held infrequently. In many Protestant communities, the Eucharist was celebrated only several times a year. Much more significance, (both in terms of liturgy and architec­ture) was attached to the reading and the preaching of the scriptures. The Eucharist was understood as a commemorative re-enactment of the Last Supper, and did not involve transubstantiation or require tabernacles for the storage of consecrated material.

     By the second half of the nineteenth century, most sanctuaries were housed in architecturally distinct chancels.74 This was also true of many Anglican churches. However in Catholic churches, sanctuaries were becoming wider and more open. Although a low communion rail were retained to define physical boundaries of the sanctuary, Roman Catholic church builders were careful to avoid any form of visual obstruction between the people and the Eucharistic celebration.75 Chancel arches were kept as open as possible and in many instances were avoided all together.76 Organs were considered a desirable addition to any church. However, Roman Catholic churches excluded organs from the sanctu­ary.77 In Roman Catholic churches, the organ was placed in a loft above the main entry, in contrast to many Protestant churches where the organ was often located inside the sanctuary.

     The focal point of a Roman Catholic sanctuary, was a central altar on raised on a platform. This spot marked a privileged place within a space already set apart.78 Contrary to Protestant communion tables, Catholic altars were “built” and were therefore large immobile construc­tions.79 The altar supported a tabernacle, which was often monumental and ornately decorated. In most parishes, a certain degree of stylistic continuity was maintained between the main altar and the facade. Churches with gothic doors and windows usually had gothic style altars. Likewise external references to Neoclassic or Italianate tradition were also reflected in the design of the main altar.80 The tabernacle was to be especially well maintained. Bishop Duhamel reminded his clergy that a tabernacle was to be lined with white silk and covered with a white veil or in the appropriate colours of the liturgical season.81 The chalice was to be kept inside. The tabernacle was to be locked and accompanied by an illuminated lamp at all times.82 The wall behind and beside the main altar and tabernacle was often covered by a reredos or ornamental screen,83which in turn was fashioned on the main altar. Side altars were often diminutive replicas of the high altar to which they were subordi­nate.84

     The walls and ceiling of the sanctuary usually continued the decora­tive program of the quadratum populi. The decoration of the sanctuary differed from the decoration in the main body of the church. Essentially, greater attention and more embellishments were concentrated in this area.85 Painted texts such as The Lord’s Prayer, The Apostle’s Creed and the Ten Commandments, all common fare especially in earlier Anglican churches, were never used to decorate the sanctuaries of Catholic churches

     Beside or behind the sanctuary, was yet another distinguishing fea­ture of Catholic church architecture, the sacristy. It was here that all the objects necessary for religious celebrations were stored. This included books, candles, vestments and even the blessed sacrament.86 The bishop went to great lengths to ensure the organization and maintenance of the sacristy and discussion of their upkeep figures prominently in many reports of Episcopal visits.87 Although housing an altar and tabernacle,88 sacristies rarely reflected any spatial or stylistic continuity. The archi­tectural elements of the main church building, and the windows were usually rectangular. As a result, the sacristy was an important and inte­gral part of a completed church.89




     Surviving examples of Catholic churches in the nineteenth century Ottawa Valley present interesting and sometimes eclectic pictures of an important aspect of central Canada’s architectural past. Although Roman Catholics unquestionably took many cues from European proto­types, they showed great determination to adapt the principles of their faith to difficult and varied circumstances. The building of a church clearly was an important priority for most Catholics. While early Cath­olic churches in the Ottawa Valley distinguished themselves primarily by their great simplicity, they also served as the center or focal point of emerging Roman Catholic communities. Once the temporal affairs of a community became more secure, Roman Catholics demonstrated a defi­nite preference for a powerful, triumphant architecture as an enthusiastic and public expression of their beliefs. For instance, the steeple of the Catholic church, rising above the skyline, eventually became a striking feature of many towns and villages in the Ottawa Valley. This was no accident, for as Mgr. Duhamel, second bishop of Ottawa explained, “L’Église a prééminence sur l’État par son origine, de même qu’elle lui est supérieurre par sa nature, ses moyens et sa fin. La religion et l’Église mettent chaque chose à sa place.”90 Ottawa Valley church builders were clearly ready to translate the words of their bishop into an architectural reality. Furthermore this architectural expression of their belief was uniquely Roman Catholic.

1The author gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

2The Montreal Gazette, 13 January 1860.

3William Westfall had pointed out that in the thirty year period between 1851 and 1881, the Anglicans, Presbyterians and Baptists of Ontario “‘trebled the number of their churches. The Methodists were even more prolific builders’ the number of their churches increased by a factor of five,” Two Worlds: The Protestant Culture of Nineteenth Century Ontario, 1989, (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press), p. 129.

4Although Ottawa River is divided by the boarder of Ontario and Quebec, the river itself has always served to unify rather than divide the social and economic activities of those living on either shore. As R. Choquette notes, “Aux points de vue social et économique, la vallée de l’Outaouais constitue donc une entité homogène centrée sur la rivière des Outaouais; dans leurs activités commerciales et économiques, ses premiers habitants se fichent éperdument de la frontière politique qui doit les diviser.” L’Église catholique dans l’Ontario français, du dix-neuvième siècle, (Ottawa: Les Éditions de l’Université d’Ottawa, 1984), p. 59.

5Included among the loyalist settlers were Episcopalians, Presbyterians Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists. The Rev. Ezra Meach to whom the Lake and Constitutional Accord owe their name was Congregationalist minister and loyalist settler who preached on the northern shore of the Ottawa River. Ottawa City Archives, United Church Records Collection, box 5, 9-Fir-74.

6The demographics of early French settlement in the Ottawa Valley are discussed fully by R. Choquette in L’Église catholique dans l’Ontario français du dix-neuvième siècle, (Ottawa: Les Éditions de l’Université d'Ottawa, 1984).

7Figures taken from the census of 1851 indicated that from a population of 86,116 people, 17,301 of the 40,439 Roman Catholics in the Ottawa Valley were French. Census returns for 1861 indicated that 34,765 of the 72,355 Roman Catholics in the Ottawa Valley were French. The total population was 141,716. R. Choquette, L’Église catholique dans l’Ontario français, p. 143

8Mgr. Guigues was born in France in 1805 and ordained in Marseilles in 1828. In 1844, he arrived in Canada as acting superior of the Oblates. He was ordained as Bishop of Bytown by Remi Gaulin, Bishop of Kingston. One of the most comprehensive discussions of Oblate work in Canada can be found in Gaston Carrière, Dictionnaire biographique des Oblats de Marie-Immaculée au Canada, vol. I - III, (Ottawa: Éditions de l’Université d’Ottawa, 1976, 1977, 1979), and Gaston Carrière, Histoire documentaire de la congrégation des missionnaires Oblats de Marie-Immaculée dans l’Est du Canada, vol I - XII, (Ottawa: Éditions de l’Université d’Ottawa, 1957-1975).

9The name of Bytown was changed to Ottawa in 1855 and two years later it was designated as the national capital. In 1860, the Diocese of Bytown was officially renamed the Diocese of Ottawa.

10Gaston Carrière, “Guigues, Joseph-Bruno,” in Mark La Terreur, ed. Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. X, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972), p. 322-323.

11Choquette in L’Église catholique dans l’Ontario français, p. 143.

12Dufresne, C. et al., “Joseph-Thomas Duhamel,” Dictionnaire de l’Amérique Française, Francophonie Nord-Américaine hors Québec, (Ottawa: Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa, 1988), pp. 129-130,

13To date, few of these churches have detailed records in the file of the Canadian Inventory of Historic Buildings, (hereafter C.I.H.B).

14N. Pagé, La Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Ottawa, (Ottawa: Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa, 1988).


L. Noppen, Au Musée des beaux-arts du Canada “Une des plus belles chapelles du pays," (Ottawa, Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, 1988).

16Archives of the Archdiocese of Ottawa (hereafter A.A.O.), Curran file, 1.5.2. and 1.5.3.

17A.A.O., Richmond file, 1.5, Annual Reports, 1875-1900.

18Quadratum Populi is used in preference to the term nave, as unlike nave, it has no architectural connotations but is simply the place where the laity gather.

19Roman Catholics were further advantaged by nearly three centuries of church­building experience in Quebec. A sampling of the diversity of work done on this subject can be seen in M. Brosseau, Le style néo-gothique dans l’architecture au Canada (Ottawa: Centre d’édition du Gouvernement du Canada, 1980); A. Gowans, Church architecture in New France (Toronto: University Press, 1955); G. Morisset, L’Architecture en Nouvelle­France (Quebec: Carrier et Dugai, 1949); G. Morisset, Les églises et le trésor de Lotbinière (Quebec: by the author, 1953); G. Morisset, Les églises et le trésor de Varennes (Quebec: s.n., 1952); Luc Noppen, Les églises du Québec (1600-1850), (Quebec: Éditeur Officiel du Québec/Fides, 1977); L. Noppen, Notre-Dame de Québec (Quebec: Éditions du Pélican, 1974); L. Noppen et al, Québec, trois siècles d’architecture (Quebec: Libre Expression, 1979); P.G. Roy, Les vieilles églises de la province de Québec, 1647-1800 (Quebec: Imprimeur du Roy, 1925); F.K.B.S. Toker, The Church of Notre-Dame in Montreal (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1970); R. Traquair, The Old Architecture of Quebec (Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada, 1947); M. Trudel, “Les églises ont-elles souffert de la conquête?” Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française vol. VII, no. 1, June 1954, pp. 25-71; L. Voyer, Églises disparues (Quebec: Libre Expression, 1981); D. Tremblay, “Caractères et tendances de l’architecture religieuse dans le Québec,” Journal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (June 1952), no. 323 pp. 228-230.

20B. Little, Catholic Churches Since 1623: A Study of Roman Catholic Churches in England and Wales from Penal Times to the Present Decade (London: Robert Hale, 1966), p. 38.

21Alexis de Barbezieux, Histoire de la Province Ecclésiastique d’Ottawa, (Ottawa: La Cie, 1897), tome I, p. 201.

22A.A.O., Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, Argenteuil, le 5 juin, 1875.

23As Alexis de Barbezieux noted: an Anglican church for their English soldiers, a Presbyterian church for Scottish soldiers, and a Catholic church for the Irish soldiers. Each usually received two acres for a rectory, four acres for a church and six acres for a cemetery. Barbezieux, Histoire de la Province Ecclésiastique d'Ottawa, p. 111.

24A.A.O., Mgr. Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, Notre Dame de Laus, 1875.

25There was a certain degree of flexibility especially when it was certain that the deed would be forthcoming. In South Gloucester, work towards the construction of Our Lady of the Visitation appears to have started in 1845, however, the actual land deed is from 1846. A.A.O., Gloucester file, fol. 2.

26A.A.O., Letter from Mr. Hamelin to Mgr. Guigues, Bishop of Ottawa, 28 September 1864, Alfred, file, 1.1.7.

27A.A.O., Letter from Philippe Gareau to Mgr. Guigues, 14 October 1858, Curran, file, 1-8-1.

28In Renfrew, Ontario, Xavier Plant gave land for church building not only to his fellow Roman Catholics but also to the Anglicans, the Episcopal Methodists and the Presbyterians. C. Bennett, The Story of Renfrew (Renfrew: Juniper Books, 1984), pp. 180­189. In Aylmer, Quebec, Charles Symmes gave land to both the Anglicans and the Roman Catholics to build their churches although he himself was a Presbyterian. R. Jefferson, Faith of our Fathers. The Story of the Diocese of Ottawa (Ottawa: The Anglican Book Society, 1956), p. 158.

29Devie, Manuel des connaissances utiles aux ecclésiastiques sur divers objets d’art notamment sur l’architecture des édifices religieux anciens et modernes, et sur les construction et réparation d’églises, avec plans et dessins lithographiés, (Lyons: L. Lesne 1843), p. 302, quotes Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origen, and Gregory of Nice as all mentioning that Christians turned to the east to pray. Devie does point out however that St. Peter’s in Rome does not conform to this orientation.

30St-Bernard in Fournier, Ont. offers an excellent example of this double orientation. The church is built on a raised bank and set well back from the main road, its principle facade opens towards the roadway (north-east), and is accessible by a sweeping semicircular drive. Immediately behind and to the sides of the church, all the grave markers in the cemetery face the rising sun.

31Devie, Manuel de connaissances utiles, p. 300; Mgr. X. Barbier de Montault, Traité Pratique de la construction, de l’ameublement et de la décoration des Églises selon les règles canoniques et les traditions romaines, (Paris: Louis Vivès, 1878), p. 12.

32Devie, Manuel des connaissances utiles, p. 301.

33Barbier de Montault noted that high ground figured prominently in many well known biblical passages and reminded potential church builders that Abraham was tested on a mountain in the land of Moriah, (Genesis XX verses 1-14), and that it was on Mount Sinai that Moses received the Law, (Exodus XXXIV, verses 1-4). He also pointed out that the miracle of the loaves and fishes was performed on a hillside (John VI, verse 3), Jesus withdrew to the mountains to pray and preach, (Matthew V, verses 1-10), and that the Transfiguration occurred on a mountain, (Mark IX, verse 2). Traité Pratique de la construction, p. 12.

34A.A.O., Mgr. Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, St. Joachim, 1878.

35This practice is mentioned frequently in reports of the Mgr. Duhamel’s visits to various small parishes. A.A.O., Mgr. Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, 1875­-1889.

36Although Anglicans made use of union churches, the practice was frowned on by some as the sign of a “stingy” congregation. The Canadian Churchman, April 6th, 1864.

37A.A.O., Mgr. Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, 1875. Episcopal visit to Ange Gardien. Although it was not a common practice Catholics, would occasionally purchase a church building from another denomination.

38It is a fine well balanced nicely proportioned church, although the blind clerestory is unusual.

39N. Pagé, La Cathédrale Notre Dame d’Ottawa, p. 130.

40In the correspondences of Mgr. Guigues, there is a contract that details architectural specifications of the construction of an unnamed church, “Spécifications d’une Église à bâtir pour Mgr. l’Évêque d'Ottawa,” 1873, A.A.O., G1-1-14-1.

41A.A.O.,Mgr. Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, contains numerous recommendations for improvements, modifications and new installations and repairs.

42See St. Michael, Fitzroy Harbor, (1869); A..A.O., Pakenham, file F, St. Pierre Célestien, Pakenham, (1852), (now lost).

43A.A.O., L’Orignal file F. 1.2.13, St-Jean-Baptiste, L’Orignal, (1853) and Curran file F.1.2.7. St-Luc, Curran, (1863), both churches are now lost.

44A notable exception is the church of St-Pierre-de-Celéstine in Pakenham, which could arguably be considered a variant of the single central entry formula, and the second church of St-Joseph in Orleans, now lost.

45Barbier de Montault, Traité Pratique, p. 44.

46By this, they always meant the facade.

47This is pointed out in a number of XIXth century publications including J. M.. Neale and B. Webb’s introductory essay to G. Durandus, Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, (Leeds: T.W. Green, 1843),p. 29; G. A.. Poole’s, Churches: their structure, arrangement and decoration, (London: J. Burns, 1846), p. 34 and in T. P. Gamier’s Church Symbolism, (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1876), p. 30. Frequently quoted is John 10: 9: “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved.”

48See, St. Anne, Ottawa (1873) C.I.H.B. Archives, File 061070026-00530, and St. Dominique, Luskville (1884), C.I.H.B. Archives, File 050046000-00052. Both St. Anne and St. Dominique are well preserved.

49See St. Philip in Richmond (1858); St. Catherine, Metcalfe (1859) and St. Mary in Almonte (1869).

50See St. Paul, Plantagenet, (1877); St-Laurent, Carlesbad Springs, (1885); Mayo, Our Lady of Malacky, (1890); St. Hughes, Sarsfield, (1894).

51Barbier de Montault, Traité Pratique, pp. 43-4.

52“La façade a un importance capitale, car c’est par elle que l’église s’annonce dès l’abord. La tradition veut qu’elle soit plus ornée que toute autre partie exterieure de l’édifice,’ Barbier de Montault, Traité Pratique, p. 43.

53Anglican and Presbyterian church builders had made frequent use of crenellations and embattled parapets especially during the first half of the nineteenth century. Although these features continued to gain popularity with Presbyterian church builders, “battlements,” were denounced as “trumpery” in 1851 by the Anglican Bishop of Quebec and rapidly disappeared from Anglican churches. J. C; Quebec, “Circular To the Clergy of the Diocese of Quebec, No. 1.” Canadian Ecclesiastical Gazette, vol. 1. no. 8. January, 1851.

54A.A.O., South Gloucester Collection, 5-1. Letter of 17 October 1855 to Mgr. Guigues, concerning installation of the Stations of the Cross.

55At the church in St. Albert, the galleries were a source of chagrin, not so much for the impecunious occupants of the galleries themselves, but for those in the more costly seats below. The church, a log structure only 25’ x 25’ had fitted with rough plank galleries to accommodate a growing population. However, during the winter months melting snow from the boots of those in the galleries would drip through the floor boards onto the heads of the more prosperous parishioners seated below. L. Brault, Histoire des Comtés unis de Prescott et de Russell, (L’Orignal, 1965), p. 193.

56A.A.O., Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, 1877, Buckingham; 1878, Douglas; 1878, Eganville etc., all discuss installation of galleries.

57Although they were used by other denominations. The Canada Christian Advocate, June 23rd, 1845, and Norman Fee, Knox Presbyterian Church Centenary: A History of the Congregation, (Ottawa: Mortimer Ltd, 1944), p. 28.

58“‘Le calorifère semble être devenu une nécessité à notre époque, où l’on aime que la dévotion ait toutes ses aises.’ On a encore la prétention de croire qu’en couronnant d’une croix cet étrange hors-d’oeuvre, on le transforme immédiatement en un meuble religieux! Illusion! Aberration! O les industriels! Qui les chassera du saint lieu?” Barbier de Montault, Traité Pratique, pp. 73-4.

59Influenced primarily by Canadian Ecclesiology and Gothic revivalists, Anglican church builders had adopted a number of significant architectural modifications. The walls of their churches were now very low, this had diminished the size of the windows and consequently the effected level of light., see for example, See St. Paul's Almonte, (1864); St. Alban's Ottawa, (1866); St. Bartholomew's Ottawa, (1868). Furthermore, Anglicans now filled many of there small windows of their churches with deeply stained glass and religious imagery.

60A striking example of this can be seen in a photograph (c. 1895) depicting the original church of St. Huges, Sarsfield (1867), and the new church under construction immediately beside it. Though incomplete, the walls of the new church rise well above the roof crest of the older building. A.A.O., Sarsfield, file, fol. F.

61Barbier de Montault, Traité Pratique, p. 55.

62Unlike many of their Anglican neighbors, Ottawa Valley Roman Catholics do not appear to have believed that gothic was the only style suitable for the building of Christian churches.

63The bright interiors of Our Lady of the Visitation, South Gloucester; St-Isidore­de-Prescott, Prescott; St. Isidore, South March; St. Paul, Plantagenet; and Our Lady of Malacky in Mayo, are good examples of this.

64The church of Our Lady of the Visitation, South Gloucester, was built in 1849, however, the interior decor was not finished until the 1860s.

65Perhaps the most striking example of this is the interior decoration of Notre­-Dame, in Ottawa. In 1864, Mgr. Guigues put a stop to work inside the Cathedral, and decoration did not resume until 1878, four years after his death. Pagé, Norman. La Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Ottawa, p. 130.

66In 1864 Mgr. Guigues put a stop to work inside the Cathedral, and decoration was not resumed until 1878, four years after his death. N. Pagé, Notre Dame d’Ottawa, p. 130.

67A.A.O., Mgr. Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, St. Colomba, Pembroke, 1877.

68A fine sampling of such work is preserved in Our Lady of Malacky, Mayo.

69Good examples of ornate, but largely aniconic vaulting can be seen in St. Jacques, Embrun, (wood), and St-François-de-Sale, Gatineau, (plaster).

70“Nous avons vu avec plaisir que Monsieur le Curé avait eu l’heureuse idée de décorer l’église de jolis tableaux à l’huile du Sacré-Coeur de Jésus et du Saint-Coeur-de­Marie et de quatre magnifiques statuettes. L’église est porservir [sic] d’ornements fort convenables et les offices religieux sont dignes de la majesté de Dieu.” A.A.O., Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, St-Grégoire, Buckingham, 1875.

71A.A.O., Gloucester, file 3. St. Catherine, Metcalfe.

72"M. le Curé a su trouver le moyen d’exciter la pieté de ses paroissiens envers ses trois grands saints et il est très édifiant de les voir s’agenouiller alternativement devant leurs statues et prier avec attention et piété.” A.A.O., Mgr. Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours, Montebello, 1877.

73This trend continues well beyond the nineteenth century. In Plantagenet the earlier Gothic church was eventually remodeled to be as un-Gothic as possible. While the exterior stone shell of the church has retained its Gothic windows, (which would have been difficult and expensive to change) the interior window frames were re plastered and replaced by round headed windows. Inside, the unusual configuration of the spandrels of the colonnade suggest that gothic arches may again have been plastered over.

74A.A.O., Mgr. Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, St. Malachy, 29 June 1875. St. Mary, Almonte; St. Laurent, Carlsbad Springs; St-Bernard, Fournier; St. Luc, Curran; St-Jean-l’Évangeliste, Thurso; Our Lady of Malacky, Mayo also illustrate the wide range of stylistic possibilities.

75A.A.O., Mgr. Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, St-Casimir, Ripon, le 22 juin 1875.

76 A.A.O., Curran file F. 1.2.9.

77A.A.O., Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, Almonte, 1878.

78Barbier be Montault, Traité Pratique, pp. 145-6.

79A.A.O., Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, Almonte, 1874; Duhamel, R.V.E., Ange Gardien, 1879.

80A.A.O., Fournier, file F. 1.2.12; Curran, file F. 1.2.9.

81“Le ciboire doit être couvert d’un voile blanc qui ne doit pas retomber tout à fait jusqu’au pied du ciboire. L’intérieur du tabernacle doit être garni d’une étoffe de soie blanche et l’extérieur doit être couvert d’un voile blanc ou mieux encore de la coleur du jour.” A.A.O., Mandements et Circulaires des Évêques d’Ottawa, Duhamel, Circulaire au Clergé, le 16 Mai, 1875; Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, Notre-Dame-du­-Mont-Carmel, La Passe, le 28 juin, 1875.

82In 1878, a priest in Richmond was stiffly reprimanded by Mgr. Duhamel for not keeping the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. Ottawa, A.A.O., Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, 1878.

83One of the best known examples of a nineteenth century reredos from the Ottawa Valley is an elegant wooden screen designed by Cannon Georges Bouillon for the Rideau Street Convent Chapel in Ottawa. The interior architecture of this chapel, including the reredos, altars and sculpted ceiling vaults are currently preserved in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. A much more spectacular nineteenth century reredos can be seen in the cathedral of Notre-Dame, also in Ottawa. Here, the same architect, Bouillon lined the entire sanctuary of the Cathedral with a monumental wooden screen. Centering his work a figure of Christ in Majesty above the main altar, Bouillon filled the rest of the screen with sculpted figures of prophets, saints and patriarchs. The importance of this work and its iconographic program are discussed in detail in N. Pagé, La Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Ottawa, pp. 106-126.

84A good example of this can still be seen at St-Bernard in Fournier, where the belfry and the tabernacle of the main altar similarly shaped.

85A.A.O., file F. 1-2-17; F. 1-2-29; F. 1-2-30.

86A.A.O., Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, St. Mary of Burdenell, 1876.

87A.A.O., Mgr. Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, Ste-Brigitte, Onslow, January 19, 1875; St-Martin, Low, 1879.

88A.A.O., Mgr. Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, Ste-Catherine, Metcalfe, June 12-13, 1876.

89A.A.O., Mgr. Duhamel, Registre des Visites Épiscopales, St-Jean-Baptiste, L’Orignal, 1876; St-Gabriel, Springtown, 24 Jan. 1875; Ste-Celestine, Pahenham, 13 Feb. 1876.

90 A.A.O., Mandements et Circulaires, Duhamel, 3e Serie, No. 14, 1886, pp.150-60.